The continuing involvement of volunteers is vital to equestrian sport and can not be overstated. It is estimated that tens of thousands of volunteers each give an average of 15.5 hours of time each year to equestrian sport and recreation in Great Britain, although many give much, much more of their time. The BEF and it's Member Bodies value volunteers highly and recognise them as one if the sport's greatest assets.
Here you can find advice for both volunteers and volunteer managers. Ranging from how to reward volunteers to guidelines for best practice; from information on how to get started to advice for young volunteers.
What is a Volunteer?
Although there is no legal definition of exactly what a 'volunteer' is, the term volunteering is generally taken to describe where a person freely gives their time to an activity without the expectation of getting paid. Volunteering is a positive activity, for both the volunteer and the people or organisation that they help and support. As there is no contract between the organisation and the volunteer, either party may terminate the arrangement at any time.
Best Practice Guidelines:
Volunteering should be a positive and rewarding experience for both the volunteer and the organisation invovled, below are some best practice guidelines to help you achieve this.
Who can Volunteer?
Whilst the government regards volunteering as an inclusive activity, open to all, it should be acknowledged that there are some legal and safety restrictions that can create barriers to the participation of certain groups. For more information, please visit the Volunteering England website (www.volunteering.org.uk)
Should Volunteer Expenses be Reimbursed?
Although voluntary work is, by definition, unpaid that doesn't mean that volunteers should end up out of pocket for having given their time. The reimbursement of reasonable and genuine expenses accrued by volunteers as part of their voluntary work is, in fact, an equal opportunities issue as the cost of travel or a meal eaten out can be very significant to an individual on a low income or benefits and could ultimately prevent them from volunteering. Remember, volunteers are making a gift of their time which can be regarded as having a substantial monetary value - they should not be expected to give up money as well. What constitutes 'reasonable expenses' should be agreed in advance however and paying 'flat rate' expenses should always be avoided.
What is a Volunteer Policy?
A volunteer policy is a written document that meets the specific individual needs of each organisation. It demonstrates an organisation's commitment to good practice and ensures consistency in volunteer management. It should be a 'living document' clearly written, easy to use, reviewed regularly and revised as often as necessary and should be prepared through consultation with both paid staff and volunteers to make it as inclusive as possible. Although the exact format will differ, most policies should include such things as a mission statement, explaining how volunteers fit into the aims of the organisation and how they will be treated; recruitment processes; induction and training; expenses; support for volunteers; insurance cover; equal opportunities and problem solving.
Are Volunteer Agreements Necessary?
Written agreements have many benefits, as they clearly state the organisation's commitment to its volunteers, it's standards of good practice and also what it expects it's volunteers to do, eg. agree to follow the rules and procedures of the organisation, meet time commitments and give reasonable notice if this is not possible. They can also act as a point of reference for volunteers but, in order to avoid any danger of creating a contract, any form of contractual language or obligation should be avoided.
National Volunteers' Week
Volunteers' Week is an annual campaign which celebrates the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK. For more information visit www.volunteering.org.uk